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A year of growth and progress

Farzad Farr, executive director of Wildwoods. (Photo: Vrieze Photography)

2016: Wow, what a year for Wildwoods! Our Duluth-based wildlife rescue and rehabilitation organization had many record-breaking and groundbreaking moments this year.

However, Wildwoods is far more than a place where orphaned or injured animals receive care and treatment. Wildwoods is also a resource for the people of Duluth and surrounding communities. Every person who rescues an animal and brings it to Wildwoods is grateful that we're here to help. Wildwoods is also a place where passionate volunteers and interns to learn firsthand how to care for wildlife in need. It is amazing how a person's perception of a type of wild animal changes after they directly care for one. In this way, Wildwoods helps renew connections between people, our natural surroundings and our wild neighbors that have eroded over time.

This year has also been one of profound change and growth for Wildwoods. In 2016 we moved out of the basement and backyard of our founders and into our own space on six acres out on West Arrowhead Road. This spring, we broke ground, built and then moved into a brand-new facility that you and your generous support are helping us build. Thanks to your generosity and love for wildlife, we now have three times more space to better care for our wild patients.

Construction, the capital campaign and higher operating costs made 2016 one of the most challenging years for our young organization. This would not have been possible if it weren't for the support of our great community. From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU! Former Duluth Mayor, Don Ness put it beautifully when he said, "Northlanders take pride in our stewardship of our amazing natural surroundings. A new Wildwoods animal rehab center will embody our region's values and respect for wildlife. Let's make this dream come true. "

In addition to the move, construction and the capital campaign, Wildwoods had a record-breaking year for the number of patients admitted. We admitted over 1,250 animals this year, a 30 percent increase since 2015. In terms of animals cared for, Wildwoods is now the second largest wildlife rehabilitation center in state of Minnesota. That's something we Northlanders can take great pride in.

We not only admitted more animals than ever in 2016, but our patients came from 22 counties, not just from St. Louis County, up from 13 counties in 2015. This underlines how important wildlife is to Northlanders and how necessary Wildwoods is.

Wildwoods' mission goes far beyond caring for injured and orphaned animals. One of our main focuses is education, teaching folks what to do if you find an injured or orphaned animal and showing ways we all can peacefully coexist with our wild neighbors. We take our message to schools, libraries, clubs and homes. In 2016, we gave 16 presentations. We also have a bimonthly article in the Budgeteer and are a resource for people who call on the phone and need guidance with a wildlife concern.

2017 is going to be another challenging year for Wildwoods as we continue to grow. In 2017, we are moving into the second phase of our badly needed expansion, with a higher operating budget. We are confident that with help from our generous community, we will move forward in building a sustainable organization that will serve the people and wildlife of northern Minnesota for years to come.

From all of us at Wildwoods, Happy New Year!

Wildwoods is a 501(c)(3) wildlife rehabilitation organization in Duluth. For information on how you can help wildlife, including volunteer opportunities, visit wildwoodsrehab.org, call (218) 491-3604 or write to P.O. Box 3161, Duluth, MN 55803.

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